Saturday, December 31, 2011

Exceptional Excerpt to conclude 2011

I haven't posted an exceptional excerpt lately and so I figure it's time, particularly as the year comes to a close. With that in mind, my last blog post of 2011 will be this, from Brian Morton's novel "Breakable You" that I'm finishing tonight.

"We wish for a symmetry of feeling, but we rarely get it. It is painful to be the one who loves more, and painful to be the one who loves less."

These two sentences, when I read them, made me stop and reread them, and I folded down the page. This is what is great about Brian Morton's writing. Such a simple idea, something everyone knows, but he says it perfectly and without masking the idea in fancy terms. No, it's easy. Rarely does one find his or her match. Most of us walk around in one of Morton's two camps, either loving more or loving less and dealing with the pain of where one lands. Here's hoping that 2012 proves Morton wrong. My wish is for that symmetry of feeling. Being rare doesn't make it extinct.

Happy New Years to you all!!

Friday, December 30, 2011


So, I got a ton of writing done today particularly given the amount of time I spent writing. If I had been able to put in another two hours, I may have well hit 2,000 words today but even so, I'm pleased with my progress.

Today's word from my writing: reflective

Not sure why I chose that word to share but, there it is. Now, I'm taking a break to finish reading Brian Morton's "Breakable You" I'm so happy to round out my 2011 reading with such a wonderful novel and writer.

CHEERS to all!

Thursday, December 29, 2011


So, in the last hour I wrote 291 words and they were GREAT words tonight. A word used in this snippet is "wildflowers" and I'm noting it here because really, when is it NOT a good time to point out wildflowers when you can?

Week One Short Story Selections

So, I've already said I'm starting my year with the Robert Olen Butler short story "Moving Day" but, here is the list for the rest of week one.

Day Two: "What Ernest Says" by Sue Miller
Day Three: "A Find" by Nadine Gordimer
Day Four: "Mortals" by Tobias Wolff
Day Five: "The Angel is my Watermark" by Henry Miller
Day Six: "The Golden Apple of Eternal Desire" by Milan Kundera
Day Seven: "Epstein" by Philip Roth

Just choosing the stories has been a challenge. Now, it's time to read and blog about them and I'm up for it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

103 words and a plan for the year ahead...

Yeah, it's not much but 103 words is better than no words and besides, I got a chance to use the word "olfactory" this morning. THAT alone is worth noting.

Aside from my writing, I'm getting ready to embark on a challenge for myself of reading a short story a day in 2012. First up, the Robert Olen Butler short story "Moving Day" which I believe was the author's first published piece of fiction. I'll have a review for it on January 1, 2012 and then, on January 2, 2012, there will be another short story review. I'm still making my list but I'm excited about the chance to really study the craft of the short story and to also broaden my reading horizons as I finish writing this latest novel.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Silent Nights

I haven't shared any music on my blog so far but I think it's time to change that, particularly in my current state of a certain quiet in my life.

Aldous Huxley hit the nail on the head when he said:

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”

So, to that end, I offer Marble Sounds' "Come Here"

As the song says, I'm in no don't have to worry...come here...

Friday, December 23, 2011

profoundly flawed

Like the exceptional excerpts I've posted here from time to time, quotes will occasionally strike me as not only worthy of memory, but profound for the ability of a given phrase to completely capture an emotion or a fundamental truth about life or love or loss and to capture it in an image that one can't quite forget. I stumbled onto this one today and thought I'd put it in my blog so I wouldn't lose it. It's rather perfect and powerful in its simplicity even if flawed as I'll explain following the quote.

"I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together again and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken --and I'd rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived."

--Margaret Mitchell

I read this and I picture a vase falling from a mantle and resting in pieces in the floor. It is very true that the best thing to do with that vase is to throw the pieces away and replace it with a new one, particularly when putting it back together with glue would not not only require too much work, but when it would leave the vase looking damaged or irreparably fragile.

But, what if the vase is an antique, part of a set of World War I china that your grandmother's first love brought back from the war? It was unique and beautiful and it held its own on the mantle among the other flashier and newer pieces. It can't be replaced. It can't be. Mending it is all one can do...that is, if the vase is this kind of vase, the kind you won't likely find again even if a duplicate exists out there in the world. So you pick up those pieces and you glue them back together. You do this so others can see the scarred beauty of the vase. That way, no one forgets it was there once upon a time on the mantle and that it was glorious.

433 life got in the way for a few days but I'm up this morning and I've written 433 words. Today was mostly dialogue but it was important dialogue. Here's a snippet:

“All brawn and no brains. Well, some brains, enough to know when to get out of the rain at least. Neither of them were ever any good at carrying an umbrella if you know what I mean.”

“Enough with the metaphors.”

“Metaphors are easier. Try using a simile sometime. It’s like…”

Anyway...that is enough on this portion of my novel. It's coming along nicely now. I hope to add some more later today but with Christmas fast approaching, I'm not sure when I'll have the time. If I can squeeze in even 30 minutes it will be worth it and I need something to be worth it these days.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

up and coming

It's official. I'm now in a book club. I've joined a writing group. I've already booked reservations and tickets for three different literary festivals this coming Spring. I'll get to mingle with Margaret Atwood, Pat Conroy, Stephen King, Geraldine Brooks, and Jamie Ford to name but a few.

I've started crafting my 2012 reading list based on these authors to ensure that I'm ready for the talk, whatever talk it is that I'll have a chance to have with them about their writing, their lives, and their plans for future works. Having corresponded and shared with several novelists now over the past year, there is no question that I am inspired by these interesting and different voices and as much as I love to read...THIS IS MY WRITING YEAR!

And...I'm still actively writing on my sixth novel. So, I'm up and coming's not just events for me these days. My inner life is turning the corner and now my voice is what I'm looking for. My voice is what I must find.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I didn't get to write yesterday but I did manage 544 words this evening and I plan on getting in some more in the morning to make up for lost writing time. Even so, the words tonight were solid words even if there isn't a word I can point to that needs special inclusion in this post. This was more of an overall 544 words good feeling than a feeling about any of the individual words and that's okay. I'm still writing. It's what I can do.

a new word

Interestingly, while writing tonight on my work in progress, I went to my trusty thesaurus in search of a nice synonym for the word "nonchalance" because it just didn't seem to fit my character. What I stumbled onto was this word:


Yeah, I hadn't heard of this word either. Turns out, and it may seem obvious from the way the word is spelled, that this word is derived from French word "soucier" which means "to trouble or disturb" which means that the word insouciance basically means "not toubled by" ie...nonchalant

Now why nonchalance is the word most people are familiar with and not this word is a mystery to me and one I'm not willing to spend more time on than I have just now in researching this new word in the first place. Even so, I'm at least putting this note in my blog since it's always nice to add a new word to my vocabulary and to the possibilities of what I can do on the page by using it.

(thought I'm totally not using it in my way, it't nothing my character would dream of using in a sentence :) )

Friday, December 16, 2011

Taking Notice

It was one of those things to take note of, the choice to use the spare upstairs bathroom at my sister's house, a bathroom that is bare except for the soap dispenser on the white counter, the toilet paper on the roll and a book resting on the top of the tank of the hand towels or rugs even, just the soap, the toilet paper, and this book so of course, I noticed the book. It was the only thing that didn't belong there.

And this book looked familiar. It was an anthology of American Literature and I could have sworn it was my book but I couldn't be sure so I opened it up and there, on the back inside cover was my name, my maiden name. That told me the book was one I'd had during my first two years of college and the beauty of this book was that in the margins of so many pages were my words too. Comments, questions, references to other parts of the same story or poem or to other poets or authors altogether. There were question marks, asterisks, underlined passages and passages I'd stricken through. And while I'd folded down several pages in the anthology, there was only one bookmark. That bookmark was a small rectangle of blue cardstock that I vividly remember using at an old video store I worked in during college. We made our own post-its if you will from this blue paper and for me, I'd made a bookmark of it. Again, this was out of place in this book with mostly folded pages so, like the book itself, I took notice.

The page that was marked was an Anne Sexton poem "For My Lover, Returning to his Wife" and while I do not have a recollection of the poem as a whole from reading it before, I quickly read through the poem and found the passage that I am certain resulted in my bookmarking this one page in the middle of a thousand pages. It is the final blow as I like to call it, the slamming of the door at the end of the poem that did it for me, that does it for me still:

I give you back your heart.
I give you permission --
for the fuse inside her, throbbing
angrily in the dirt, for the bitch in her
and the burying of her wound --
for the burying of her small red wound alive --
for the pale flickering flare under her ribs,
for the drunken sailor who waits in her left pulse,
for the mother's knee, for the stocking,
for the garter belt, for the call --
the curious call
when you will burrow in arms and breasts
and tug at the orange ribbon in her hair
and answer the call, the curious call.
She is so naked and singular
She is the sum of yourself and your dream.
Climb her like a monument, step after step.
She is solid.
As for me, I am a watercolor.
I wash off.

So I read this last night and I've thought about it some more today, about why this poem would come back to me now. But I see it. I took notice. I am a watercolor. I. Wash. Off.


I got in 78 words so far this morning after waking up LATE after being up LATE...long night here but a lovely night. It's nice to feel a little bit of me returning. I'll glady exchange a small amount of happy for less words. At least for now.

word used: appetite

This is another of my favorite words to say and to watch someone say. The eyes can never let the mouth be the only one that enjoys the saying of it.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

the mighty albatross

Stranger things have happened I assure you but, tonight, as I drove my sister home from the airport to visit family, I swerved on a small bridge to avoid a disturbingly large bird. Now, in rural north Florida, one expects to be on the lookout for deer or possum or the occasional wolf or bobcat but a bird of this size?



It was a strange and foreboding sort of event but as I've said, stranger things have happened. But, I am convinced it was an albatross and because I associate the bird with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I'm so glad I didn't actually hit the bird. I have enough going on in my life right now. I don't need something else dragging me down.

Seriously though, this bird was HUGE.


a "small town"

There are many Southerners who claim to have been raised in "a small town" but until you've been born in Graceville, Florida and raised in Bonifay, Florida, they wouldn't understand my definition of "small" and wouldn't comprehend why it irks me to hear so many claim to know what it's like to actually live in that kind of a world.

Born: Graceville, Florida, 1977, population less than 2,000,_Florida

Lived: Bonifay, Florida, through 2000, population 4,078,_Florida

I lived it, 20 years of it and I came out on the other side and I'm proud of my rural roots for the life it gave me and the life it pushes me to lead now. It's because I come from "a small town" that I am the writer I am, the mother I am, the lawyer I am. It's because I see opportunity and I know what it's like to not have it or to think you don't h ave it. But I see it now and I can't look back because I know what waits for me if I do.

1,358 and more research

Yes, the number above is correct...I was up at 1 am writing so these words are going on today's word count was an emotional rollercoaster of a writing session that also involved some quick research that turned into a fascinating flashback about a time when my character harvested pomegranates. I'm extremely proud of my words from this morning for both the words themselves and for my ability to push through my own issues and the moment of those issues to make my story shine.

word from this morning: noose

This story is only just getting started.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marcel Proust...yeah...I'm going there...

So, this French novelist is well known, blah blah blah...but he is more than that. He is one of THE most quotable phenoms to emerge from French literature or I'd venture, from literature...period. Here is an example that hits close to home these days:

"Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind."

If I take this quote to heart, which honestly is hard not to do when one considers not only how accurate his statement is but how perfectly he puts it, I find myself searching for some sentiment to counter it, to convince myself that maybe he got it wrong and later corrected his statement after living life or experiencing love. But no, this is what we get:

"We are healed from suffering only by experiencing it to the full."

Basically, what Proust is saying is that not only is it okay to grieve, but it is better to grieve and suffer than to be happy in that it's a choice to a certain extent. Mind over body. Some choose the body, others choose the mind. I wonder what Proust would have to say about the act of the choosing.

still thinking on this...but thinking on this is shaping what I'm writing tonight...maybe now is the time to throw in a little French for good measure

552 with excerpt

This morning was a good morning with 552 words. I LOVE what I wrote this morning and what it means to the story as a whole, how it moves the story along. Instead of posting just a word from the piece, today, I'm posting an excerpt that I feel is a sort of miniature turning point in the story:

When I reach the hospital, I pull into the parking lot of a neighboring party supply store. I get out of my car and I’m just starting to walk when a gust of wind rips a bouquet of green and orange balloons from the handle across the front door. Children scatter and jump, grasping for the dangling ribbons but only one small boy is successful. I watch him for a moment and imagine myself into his life, into the sort of innocent wonder and unadulterated abandon that compelled him to leap and reach for a drifting balloon in the first place. He doesn’t know it yet, I think and wish there was someone to tell it to, but he won’t always catch the balloon. Sometimes the strings just aren’t long enough.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


a word for the morning: divert

307 words least I'm still writing...

Monday, December 12, 2011


This morning there were 222 words in me. That I was able to put them on the page is astonishing given my last few days and lack of sleep. But, it is done.

One of those words: intermingling

Tonight, there will be more words, I hope. I'm approaching 30,000 now on my current work in progress. As long as I'm still moving toward a finished novel on a daily basis, I'm keeping at it and I won't quit for fear of what that means moving forward.

As the great Vince Lombardi said, "Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit."

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I've gotten in 581 words this morning and I've been writing for an hour and a half straight. While I could write some more this morning, I think I may instead snuggle up with a cup of coffee and two novels that I'm currently reading and try to knock those out before my girls wake up. Today is gingerbread house making do so I have to be prepared for full on kid time when it gets here. :)

In any event, a word I used today is: tenacity

This also happens to be one of my favorite words of all time and I'm glad it found a place in my novel today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I got up super early today because I had to write. There was no way I could have stayed in bed. So, I hopped out of bed, made a pot of coffee and sat down at my laptop. I wrote the first 350 words that first hour. Then, I took a break and washed a sink full of dishes and cleaned up a little in my living room. Then, I sat back down and wrote for another hour and got out another 175 words or so. Took another break when my 3 year old woke up and I made her some pancakes and turned on her Saturday morning cartoons while she waited for my 6 year old to wake up. After that, I sat back down and now, I've written another 400 words or so, brining my total for this morning to 984 words and I'm very proud of the ones I got in this morning.

My word for the day that I used is: murky


You gotta love the adjectives you can use to describe water...sooooo many possibilities!

Friday, December 9, 2011


I got in 120 really good words this morning...really good ones, and I managed to use the word "chromatograph" which makes me feel AWESOME on this fine Friday morning. Yes, it being Friday helps too.

Tonight, I plan on adding hopefully another 1,000 words to catch up for what has been a slow week for me.

Happy writing all!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

an ebook virgin

I did it. It was my first time. I downloaded an ebook today and it felt FANTASTIC!!!!

Now...hopefully the book will deliver the goods and not disappoint. The novel is called "Fall of the Birds" by Bradford Morrow and it's a short novel which is all that I'm willing to commit to for the time being, at least online anyway. This may be a very complicated relationship I'm entering into with the electronic world but I'm ready to take the plunge.

I'll post later to share whether this experience was indeed mind-blowing!


Well, I only got in 73 words this morning but, since I got in another 77, I'll pretend I wrote 150 words this morning. Tonight, I need to kick it in gear. Even so, I'm happy I wrote something.

Word used today: quiet

talk about a word with layers and layers of meaning that can't really be replaced by a better word


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I got in 179 words this morning. Among those words was the word "funnel cake." It's good that I got these words in this morning or else I'd have craved one of the very things I wrote about. Just another reason that my early morning writing regimen is paying off.

Writing to lose there is a diet I can live by.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Getting My Pulitzer On

I just ordered Jennifer Egan's 2011 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, "A Visit from the Goon Squad" and 2010 winner Paul Harding's short novel "Tinkers"

Hopefully, I'll get my copy of "A Visit from the Goon Squad" signed in February by the wonderful Ms. Egan. For now, it's reading time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

100 Notable Books of 2011

I'm glad to see that Charles Baxter's "Gryphon" made it onto the list this year. I have my copy ready to go for my 2012 reading. It's never too late to return to this author's writing and it's been since this summer since I last enjoyed his work.

The link is here for anyone interested to see who else hit the top 100

a writing sample

This is from my current WIP...the aimless wandering of a lost soul...but things are about to get better for her, my character's name is Madge. Madge is about to turn a corner...I can feel it:

Where I go when I can’t go to him is a silent place, a place that controls my emotions in a noisy and unpredictable way but that moves my body quietly from one room to another in search of empty coffee mugs that might still have a trace of his taste on them. It’s something like gravity, the way his absence magnetizes everything around me. I’m drawn to the comb in the bathroom drawer that reminds me of the way he says he wore his hair in the seventh grade, slicked back with Murray’s pomade because his mama said it made him look like Rhett Butler. I’m pulled into the closet where his shoes are unlaced as always, and I have to touch the tongue because I can see his fingers there now fussing with the leather to ensure a proper fit. The sink where he shaved and where he stopped shaving because I asked him to. It smells of the Old Spice he preferred over the kiddie stuff and I’m sniffing and sniffling because my body can’t let it go. My south to his north. My presence. Here. Now. His absence, a force I can’t resist.


Someone once told me that writing daily is the key to writing...and it's not one of things that you really have to be told in order to know it but even so, knowing it and doing it are two different things.

So, I'm committing myself to every day, to writing every day and to reading every day as well because I don't believe one will hurt the other. I am going to come to my blog and log the number of words and also my favorite word from among them. It will challenge me to make sure I keep my story interesting and fresh and whether it's 47 words or 470, they'll be good words because I'm holding myself accountable.

So, with that said, this morning I've put in 421 words. One word that was used was "marshall" and I realize that doesn't give away much about what the story is about but that's fine. Every story is made up of one word added to another word until you have sentences that combine with sentences to make paragraphs. And, for the sake of daily writing, I'm happy with the word because it is on the page now. I just need to keep adding more words until my story is complete.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Doctor's Orders

For anyone who knows me, they'd know of my fascination with Dr. Seuss aka Theo Lesieg aka Theodor Seuss Geisel

Today, with everything going on in my life and with everything not going on in my life, this quote rings true and is something I need to hold onto:

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

This will be a struggle for me on many levels but I'm trying and lucky for me, I'm not a quitter.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Poe's sonnets

So, Edgar Allen Poe is not known for his sonnets. He only ever wrote 5 of them. But, a discussion of the one he penned in either 1840 or 1845 titled "Silence" deserves a spot in my blog for sure. And it's a lovely sad piece from Poe which is perhaps expected. But in my opinion, this sonnet loses its steam in the last few lines but is totally worthy of note for these:

There are some qualities--some incorporate things,
That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a two-fold Silence--sea and shore--
Body and Soul. One dwells in lonely places,

This passage is packed full of depth and darkness and it makes me want to sit outside in the fading daylight and stare into the deep blue ocean while listening to the wind at my back on the shore. It reminds me of a novel I finished recently aptly titled "Ocean Sea" where the Italian novelist Alessandro Baricco beatifully paints the same picture through fable-like narratives, all of them focused on the sheer life force that is...the sea.

Living near the water, this passage of Poe's struck me when I ran across it today. So I shared it here to bookmark it for my future musing.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Jew of Malta

Last night, while doing some reading, I was reminded of the class I took in college on Renaissance drama, ie, the non-Shakespeare class. We read a combination of Chrisopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson plays and after thumbing through my books, I noticed that I'd heavily highlighted and asterisked several sections from Marlowe's
"The Jew of Malta"

Notably, at the beginning is the telling phrase "there is no sin but ignorance" with which Machiavel introduces the play's leading man, Barabus.

I guess this was the 16th century Marlowe-esque prequel to today's "ignorance is bliss"

I'm not sure why this is sticking with me but it is. Does this mean it is sinful to be happy? No, that can't be. I think if you combined these two ideas you could say that it is sinful or dangerous to be blindly happy to the exclusion of reality. Now what one's reality is? That's a different post altogether and I'm afraid Mr. Marlowe can't help with that.